Seal hitches lift back to the sea
‘‘We rolled him up in a blanket and put him in the back of my ute.’’
A wayward seal was given a lift by a passing motorist after almost being hit and killed on a Waikato highway.
The young New Zealand fur seal was discovered bathing in sunshine in a paddock full of horses in Hinuera on December 29.
Brad Farmilo was driving along State Highway 29, heading towards Tauranga, when he was flagged down by a couple heading towards Cambridge.
‘‘I just stopped and the lady said to me ‘There’s a seal on the road’. And I said ‘What do you mean, a seal?’’’ he said.
His first thought was about where the seal had come from, closely followed by the need to stop it causing an accident.
But he had to catch it first, with help from other passers by. The seal was a juvenile, Farmilo said, and later moved into a paddock of horses.
He, the couple that flagged him down and a local worker launched a plan to catch it. ‘‘He wasn’t a full grown one.
‘‘We wouldn’t have caught otherwise, I don’t think,’’ he said.
‘‘He wasn’t happy about us being there. He took a few swipes and tried to bite and things like that... He was hissing and barking and carrying on.’’
‘‘We threw a blanket over him...and I just held him by the scruff of the neck so he couldn’t turn
it around and bite anyone. We just held him there and one of the other guys was holding the back flippers so he couldn’t get any power to get away.’’
Senior Sergeant Rupert Friend of the Waikato District Command Centre said police arrived and contacted the Department of Conservation who informed them it would take an hour to get a ranger from Tauranga.
It was decided it would be quicker for Farmilo to take it over the Kaimai Range and meet DOC, Friend said.
Two men held the seal while Farmilo wet down the tray of his ute across the road.
‘‘We rolled him up in a blanket and put him in the back of my ute,’’ he said.
‘‘Once it was under the cover and it was dark in there it calmed right down and just sat there.’’
The handover with DOC came about halfway over the ranges, near Farmilo’s home, so his wife and daughter came down to get a look before it continued its journey.
A DOC spokesperson said the fur seal likely got lost upriver. ‘‘All the adults have gone south towards the breeding colonies and the juveniles hang around and go exploring."